Rookie expectations for the Thanksgiving game

After a great performance by several members of the Detroit Lions’ 2021 rookie class against Cleveland, expectations for them are higher than ever for this upcoming Thanksgiving game.

Against Cleveland, some of these rookies got the start, while others were thrown into the action due to injuries. Now set to face Chicago on Thursday, many from this class could have larger roles against the Bears.

On the offensive line, first-round pick Penei Sewell held his own against Jadeveon Clowney and didn’t allow a sack for a fifth-straight game. He will start against Chicago and hope to repeat his success against their defensive line. Luckily for Sewell, Chicago’s star defensive lineman Akiem Hicks will sit out of this matchup.

Undrafted rookies Tommy Kraemer and Ryan McCollum both were thrust into their first offensive snaps due to injuries to starters Evan Brown and Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Both of them performed fairly well, especially given the circumstances. This Thanksgiving, McCollum will be the sole backup center for Brown while Kraemer is expected to start at right guard while Vaitai recovers from a concussion.

Running back Jermar Jefferson, who missed last week’s game, is questionable to appear in this week’s Thanksgiving showdown. The rookie had shown serious potential on limited snaps this season. If Jefferson is able to play on Thursday, he will serve as a backup behind D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams.

Against Cleveland, only one Lions receiver showed up in the box score — Amon-Ra St. Brown. Due to poor play from second-string quarterback Tim Boyle, St. Brown and the rest of the receiving corps weren’t given much opportunity. This week, Jared Goff should return to the helm of the offense. If he does, expect St. Brown to get his fair share of catches.

Undrafted rookie tight end Brock Wright got involved early against the Browns, catching a 12-yard pass from Boyle on the first play of the game. Though he didn’t record a stat for the rest of the game,…

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